Monday, June 26, 2006

I Wanna Love Them! I Really Do!

So, I don't know if it's just me, but I find the Sarah Kramer cookbooks rather hit-or-miss (and lately they've been veering off moreso towards the land of "miss"). I don't mean to be dissing them at all in saying this--I love love love the introductions to the books and the tips given on various MacGyver-esque uses for common household items (like baking soda or vinegar*--these lists are so much fun to read and use), and my cats absolutely adore the tin-foil catnip balls I made them which came from one of the Kramer recipe books. So don't get me wrong.

But all that being said, I rarely find myself actively seeking out recipes from the Garden of Vegan book I have at home, mainly because I've not made anything out of her books that has really bowled me over, though I occasionally do try. Granted, I haven't experimented with tons of the recipes, so I'm sure there are some real winners in there, despite my whining. But I don't know if it's due to the fact that the recipes are submitted to her or what, and though I appreciate the communal nature of collecting up vegan recipes and sharing them around, well, quite frankly, sometimes the recipes are just not cookbook-worthy. No offense intended, but typically, when you're cooking and trying out a recipe for the first time, you want it to be a recipe that'll make the folks you're feeding go, "Holy shit! This is amazing! I can't believe it's vegan!" or something along those lines. And none of the ones I've tried so far do, unfortunately.

The main reason I even bring this up is that this weekend, I had *two* marginal failures from her cookbook: one was the crepes recipe (which I don't think was necessarily the fault of the cookbook, as I think I've used this recipe before with no problems--but they ended up mush this time) and the second was a batch of the 'Herman's No-Bake Cookies' in Garden of Vegan which we whipped up Saturday night since the feller and I had a late-night hankering for something sweet and didn't feel like baking.


Following the recipe in the book, we substituted in the chocolate chips for the raisins, as suggested, but what wasn't noted (and there seems to OFTEN be things that aren't noted) was that perhaps we should fold them in AFTER the rest of the ingredients, seeing as they all ended up melting into the mix in a big chocolatey-mush of a mess. Fine--no big deal though. We figured we'll just have chocolatey-cookies intead of chocolate-chippy cookies, which is still sugarsugarsugarsugar, so it would make us happy anyways. However, the cookies themselves were just plain dull. They were not very sweet at all, and despite the melted chocolate, they weren't very chocolatey. They kinda just tasted like oatmeal that had accidentally fallen into some sugar and chocolate, probably because that's really all they were. And thing is, people often have a preconceived notion of vegan cooking as dull (particularly baking) BUT IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE. And yet, while I understand that recipes like these are aiming to be a quick and simple snack, they kinda reinforce the notion that vegan "baking" ain't tasty "baking."

They aren't horrible cookies by any means. I don't mean to imply that. But they were just... really... nothing special. I ate a bunch, because I was fixing for some sugar, but really, I would've rather consumed a handful of chocolate chips if I hadn't've accidentally melted them all into the cookie mass.

Again, no knocks to Sarah Kramer and all that, as I do enjoy her cookbooks, but I'm starting to think that, with a little bit more discrimination on behalf of what recipes are printed, there'd be a lot more room left for some of the truly fantastic recipes that I'm sure must be hidden in there, somewhere.

And if you know where they are, please let me know in my comments, as I am really trying to give these cookbooks the benefit of the doubt.

*I do have to tell you though--you may wanna be careful with the tip on using baking soda to clean your coffee-maker because I tried it one day, and it broke the machine beyond repair--it just leaks all over the place now, and we even tried taking it apart to fix it... Needless to say, I was not pleased.

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